In Search of Darkness ★★★

In Search of Darkness, a documentary on 80’s horror movies, was made by fans for fans. Crowdfunded on Indiegogo, In Search of Darkness literally goes through every year of the 80’s and discusses notable American horror films from each year. The breadth of films covered is quite staggering. From every sequel of the three big franchises – Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street and Halloween – to camp classics like The Toxic Avenger and Pumpkinhead, all are discussed to some length by such luminaries as the creators themselves – John Carpenter, Larry Cohen, Joe Dante – as well as a slew of minor celebrities known only in the horror fandom (Joe Bob Briggs, Cassandra Petersen of Elvira fame, etc.). 

In Search of Darkness is literally if those short documentaries on DVDs that are mainly ads masquerading as insight into the films they are promoting were all strung together into one long, rambling movie. Depth is definitely sacrificed for breadth, although hearing from professionals such as Harry Manfredini, composer for the Friday the 13th series, and Mark Shostrom, the makeup artist for Evil Dead II and other classics, is always appreciated. There are smaller attempts to make the whole experience more inclusive of less heard voices, such as a shout out to women in horror and how some actresses and creators found empowerment even in roles that were meant to exploit female bodies. Yet a topic such as women in horror really deserves its own two hour documentary rather than a five-minute segment, and most of the film is content to wallow in fanboy/girl delight.

Ultimately, In Search of Darkness wants to be a visual and aural encyclopedia of all things 80’s horror, and it suffers from its length. Its ideal form would have been as a TV series or even as a series of YouTube videos, which would at least involve some choice for viewers who don’t necessarily want to sit through several hours just to hear about a handful of movies they might like. Yet this four-hour long documentary may just hit the sweet spot for hardcore horror fans, who are well-known for their passion that definitely extends to their wallets. Even if the market for physical media such as DVDs and Blu-rays is diminishing, horror fans are known to willingly fork over their money for elaborate special editions of even the worst horror movies. In Search of Darkness would be a worthy addition to the library of a true horror fan, while a non-horror fan would be content with just watching a few clips from this labor of love.

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